Friday, November 01, 2013

November's Habit: Duolingo

This month I am going to recognize something I have been doing for the last month and would like to continue officially.  My brother got me into  Duolingo is a free language learning app for smartphones, tablets, and desktops.  It is great, especially since I am not actually learning my languages for the first time, but refreshing them.  I took German in high school and college, then studied abroad in Italy and took away an Italian minor.  It has been 10 years since coming home from Florence and I have used both of my languages only a handful of times since then.  I want to get my languages back where they were (and then some), so doing at least 1 lesson per day per language on Duolingo will really help.  I can tell a huge difference already.  So, there is my plan.

In the month of November, I will complete 1 lesson of both German and Italian on the Duolingo language app every day.  I hope you will join me!  If we connect as friends we can engage in a little friendly competition.  I'm ahead of my brother in points at this moment.  Boom!

P S.  I should mention that I consider "every day" to be six days per week.  Everyone needs a day of rest!

September and October: An Update

So I didn't post about the results of my September habit or tell you what I was going to do for October. Sorry.  My September habit of eating a frog every morning went really well.  Almost too well.  Like maybe I wasn't eating my biggest or ugliest frog well.  But I really felt more productive and that is the most important thing.

For October I decided to do a hard one.  I wanted to think more positively.  I've noticed since being married that not all humans talk negatively to themselves all day.  It seems to really increase confidence and self love to think and talk positively about yourself.  This is a hard one.  It seems too vague to just say, "Ok think nice things" or "Remember to talk good about yourself to yourself!"  So I looked around for something to help.  I didn't have to look far.  My mom, who is a therapist, posted a link to a site that takes you through the steps to "detox" your brain.  The method and website was developed by Dr. Caroline Leaf.  She sells books about brain stuff, "Switch on Your Brain", "Who Switched Off Your Brain?",  etc.  She has developed a 21 day brain detox program where she takes you through the process of tearing down specific toxic thoughts, all while building up and creating positive healthy thoughts.  Each day, you watch a video and do some exercises to do just that.  After reading about the program, I decided it was exactly what I needed.

It may be, but UGHHHHHH!  Not fun.  Not at all.  Something about the method really turned me off.  I should probably have read "Switch on Your Brain" first because each time I would sit down to do the thinking exercises, I couldn't concentrate.  I could get my brain to think or focus on the things I was supposed to.  Also, each time we think our specific negative thought, you are supposed to do an active reach, which the method by which we change our negative thought into a positive one.  We are supposed to do our active reach 7 times per day.  But I found that unless I am having a bad day, I don't think my toxic thought 7 times a day.  That is a good thing until you see me on my bad days.  :] So all this has made it really tough to stick with it.  I am on day 12 of 21.  I have been all over the place with it and am not sure that it is working.  I'm going to keep plugging away at it though because Dr. Leaf is very convincing about how important it is to detox your mind.  Here is an example of how much so.

Friday, September 06, 2013

September's Habit: Eat a Frog First Thing in the Morning

Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”  ~Mark Twain

So that's what I'm going to do.  I'm not going to sit around staring at the frog, dreading eating it, wondering if I can put such an odious task off.  First thing in the morning, I'm going to buckle down and EAT THAT FROG!

Of course, I mean this in the Brian Tracy sense of the word.  Where 'frog' means my 'biggest, most important task of the day'.  The task I am most likely to put off and worry about all day= Frog.  Brian wrote a book called Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.  

After I am done journaling each morning, during which time I expect to identify my biggest and ugliest frog, I will promptly eat it.  I've decided that previously created habits will not fall into this category.  I.e, working out is not up as a contender for biggest frog.

So there you have it folks!

P.S.  By pressing the 'Publish' button, I will have eaten my frog today!  Woot.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

August's End: One with Gaia

I heard a silly little actress refer to Earth as Gaia the other day and thought I would make fun of her in my post title.

Anyway, I found it pretty easy to go outside for 15 minutes a day this month.  A week-long house boating trip and a long weekend stay at family camp helped.  Some of my other habits helped too.  When I exercised outside and journaled outside, I got to count that time.  It is going to get more difficult once winter comes.  Maybe I will have to buy some snowshoes....

My other habits have been suffering.  I won't go into it, because I believe in starting new everyday.  I did all my habits yesterday, so those missed days this last month don't count!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

August's Habit: 15 Minutes Outside

Southwestern Michigan is a beautiful place.  There is Lake Michigan, rivers, streams, other lakes, fruit orchards, old growth forests, sand dunes, ponds, meadows, nature reserves, etc.  Summer is a hot commodity around here.  I always intend to enjoy it to it's fullest.  So it is frustrating when I look back on a day and realize I haven't been outside at all.  It is almost sacrilegious.  Especially because my house is surrounded by almost 4 acres of green land and a very nice lake.  So I am going to make an effort this month to make sure that I get outside for 15 minutes every day.  Preferably with the girls but I'm not going to hold myself to that!

Sunset over Lake Michigan (photo taken from The Great Waters Facebook page)

July's End: I Suck

No I am not full of self loathing.  But I am a bit disappointed in myself for not sticking to my new habit much at all last month.  There were some extenuating circumstances but for the most part it was just laziness and/or distractions.  I am all for doing what works however, so I have decided to change things around to see if I can do better with a different schedule.  11pm is the time to beat.  And 7am is my wake up call.  We will see if that works better.

I have also fallen off the bandwagon on my other habits too.  I met my water goal only half the days of the month, I took one week off working out, I missed journaling about half the days as well.  Let look at this in a more positive light though.

I drank a lot more water than I otherwise would have!
I worked out regularly for 3 whole weeks!
I journaled a lot more than I did last year at this time!
I got up earlier this month in general than I usually do!

See that?  I'm awesome.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

July's Habit: Early to Bed, Early to Rise...

..makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.  Says Ben Franklin.  Well, I guess what works for him will work for me.  This habit started out as just going to bed early.  I've found that I am so desperate for 'me time' after the girls go to sleep that I end up staying awake until after midnight.  I surf the internet, get things done, catch up on TV shows.  But mostly I surf the internet.  Then I am grumpy when my very reasonable baby wakes me up in the morning.

This month I have decided I will be in bed with the lights off and the phone down by 10:30pm.  My alarm will be set for 7:30am at which I time I will wake up.  Jason says that at this point, many of you moms out there will be rolling your eyes.  You probably get up earlier than this already.  Between the two of them, my girls get me up any where between 7:30 and 9:30am.  I am lucky, I know.  When I don't have to set an alarm and I have no interruptions, I usually wake up 9 hours later.  So I figured I would give myself that window of time.  So far this month, I have been getting up on time with one exception, but going to bed a little later than my goal.  I am hoping that writing this will help me stick with it.  I don't plan on being a party pooper.  If we have people over or are out having fun, I'm not going to just race to bed as soon as 10:30 rolls around.

I'd like to get some of my goals done in the morning if I can.  I have started journaling before I get out of bed.  Then on my workout days, I do that as early as possible too.  Man, I feel puh-retty good about myself when I get all that done before the girls wake up!  I may try getting up earlier once I get the hang of going to bed at 10:30.  We will see how I feel.

The reward for this success this month is just more time to get things done and hopefully being less irritable.

Monday, July 01, 2013

June's End: Filled Pages

I finally got into the journaling groove.  The last couple weeks I didn't miss a day!  I would like to continue this habit.  I'm not yet sure that only one page is enough to really make a difference.  However, time has been a restraining factor for this habit so I will have to see if I have the time to do more.  1 page is better than nothing!

Now it's time to get my rewards.  There are so many, it almost seems like work!  I have my eye out for a pocket notebook.  Comment if you have any suggestions.  As soon as I finish all the pages in my current journal, I will start using my leather one.  Ugh, that is going to be very hard.  Oh well, it needs to be done.

Past month updates:

I'm still working out.  I lost 5 pounds last month.  Nice!  It has helped that we have finished moving and I have a workout partner now who lives only 4 minutes away.  But she is on vacation this month!  So I have to have my own motivation it seems...

I've been doing quite well drinking water.  I'm sipping on my last bottle of water for the night as I type this.  Yay me!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June's Habit: Journal

The month is half over and you guys have no idea how i've been trying to shape myself this month.  I'm going to start out by saying that I haven't been doing a very good job so far.  Hopefully writing this will help.
As I looked through my list of future habits trying to pick just the right one for this month, I noticed that most of them are health oriented.  I think that's pretty normal.  When someone says, "bad habit" most people probably think of smoking, eating only red licorice for breakfast, or biting your toenails.  But I thought that while my physical health is important, I should also focus on my emotional, spiritual, and creative health as well.  So I decided that this month, I would journal for at least one page every day.

Why journal?  Here are a few reasons:

"Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change."- Ingrid Bengis

Journaling makes you a better writer.  I am terribly out of practice.

“I don't know what I think until I write it down.”― Joan Didion

A lot of famous and successful people kept journals.  Think Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain (look at some of his neat journal entries here), George Lucas, Benjamin Frankln, Larry David, Leonardo Da Vinci, Virgina Woolf, David Sedaris, C. S Lewis, Michael Jackson, Tony Robbins, and Oscar Wilde.  Hmmmm, not many women in the list....

University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. 

There is no perfect time to write – there is only now.”- Barbara Kingsolver

It can help heal emotional experiences.  No really, it can.

“I have found that your Inner Wisdom whispers and your Inner Critic yells, so you have to get quiet in order to hear your inner wisdom. Journaling is one way to get quiet,” - Sandy Grason

"[Writing a journal] is the primary tool for creative recovery." -Julia Cameron

Ok.  So there are some reasons fer ya!  

I'm going to write in the mornings.  At least one page.  At the end of this month, I will reward myself with a pocket notebook (so that I can write random thoughts on the go), and I will create and bind my own daily organizer based on this design I found on Pinterest, 

AND I will break out and use my leather journal that I bought 10 years ago in Italy that has been collecting dust in my book shelf because it is 'too special' to use.  That is a lot of rewards, but as I said, I have been having a hard time doing this, it is
that important, and I really want to succeed in this!

Monday, June 10, 2013

May's End: Sloshy Stomach

So I may be a stupid American but I just realized a week ago that I've been drinking one GALLON of water every day.  I calculated how much water I should drink in liters but when I saw that that was 16 cups, the enormity of my undertaking really hit home.  I did pretty well drinking my one gallon.  I have found that I really fall off the wagon when my routine gets switched up.  Looking back at my water tracker, when my extended family was here visiting and when I went to visit the in-laws, my drinking habit really hit some low points.

So what changes did I notice?

1.  This won't come as a shock to anyone, but I had to pee more and it was lighter in color.  Unexpectedly, I didn't have to pee as much as I was expecting.  Breastfeeding and sweating (see April's habit) probably had something to do with that.
2.  My lips still get chapped.  Seriously lips?  One gallon a day is not enough for you, you desiccated divas?
3.  I do seem to be less irritable.  I haven't yelled at the dogs or snapped at the girls as often as I was before.  Which feels awesome!
4.  No noticeable changes in my skin.
5.  I didn't lose any weight this month even though I've been exercising.
6.  About 10 days in to my habit, I woke up with cough that started deep in my chest.  You know the kind where you expect to hack up a lung for about 3 weeks?  I was mad.  I had been drinking water!  That was supposed to keep me healthy!  Imagine my surprise when 3 days later my cough was gone.  Correlation or causation, I give credit to that daily gallon of water.

I'm going to keep up with this habit.  However, I think that a gallon a day is a bit overkill.  That last bottle of water is always difficult to glug down.  So I'm cutting it.  2.25 liters (12 cups) for me from now on.  Should be plenty.

April Habit Update

I've continued working out except for when I was recovering from my cough.  Increased on some of my measurements.  Stayed the same weight.  I'm trying not to dwell on that.  Figure that my muscles are growing and that is why my measurements have increased.  But still.  -groan-

Saturday, May 04, 2013

May's Habit: Drink Water

I know you have all been waiting with baited breath (Let's pause for moment to ponder where that idiom originated.......) to hear what my habit of the month is.  Well, I shall hold you in suspense no longer.  This month I would like to make it a habit to drink 3 liters of water every day.  Before this month, I considered it a good day when I would get 3 cups of water down.  -gasp- I know.  Sometimes I would go to bed and then realize I hadn't drunk any water all day.  I'm breastfeeding right now and plan to continue to do so for about another year so I think that this is an important habit to get into if I'm not going to shrivel up and blow away like a crunchy, dried-up fall leaf.  

Drinking enough water is supposed to be very beneficial.  When I was looking up the benefits of staying well hydrated, I came across a lot of lists.  "The 5 biggest benefits of sporting a water mustache" "9 ways that being well hydrated attracts men" "11 reasons to marry your water bottle", etc. They went on and on.  I kept reading until I got to one that boasted 50+ points, then decided to make my own list.

7 Ways Water Will Rock My World

  1. Make my skin look younger 
  2. Prevent my lips from getting chapped
  3. Give me more energy
  4. Flush toxins out of my system
  5. Give my organs an easier job
  6. Boost my metabolism
  7. Get rid of my irritability
So basically I'm expecting drinking 3 liters of water every day will solve every problem that I have ever had.  

Here are my strategies for keeping up this tricky habit that I have failed at so many times before:

1.  Write this blog.  

I know that I will have to give you all an update at the end of this month. I better follow through with this or you are all going to laugh at me!!

2.  Designate a special water bottle as mine

Jason recently bought this pretty little bottle for me.
 It is BPA free, and .75 liters so I have to empty it into my body 4 times per day.  Now that I have my OWN water bottle, it will be easier to track how much I have drunk.  Now if only I can stop Jason and Hazel from poaching my water and convince them to use their own "sippies" as we call them, I would be able to more accurately track my intake.

3.  Track my intake

I searched through a lot of different apps for my iphone.  There were some cute free ones.  TONS of them actually.  I finally decided on iDration.  Clever eh?  It cost me 99 cents (oh the humanity!) but the ease of use and of appealing design of the platform was worth every penny.  

4.  Set up a reminder system 

iDration not only tracks my intake, it also send me push notifications throughout the day to remind me to drink more water.  

5.  Reward myself with a new water bottle at the end of the month

Ever since I saw it on pinterest, I have been lusting after this super duper cool water bottle!
  I think it would be a nice way to reward myself for a job well done.  

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April's End: Smaller!

There is a robin sitting on 4 perfectly blue eggs in the hanging fern on my front porch.  I feel just like her.  After 4 weeks of working out, I have lost 4 pounds!  I wish I had such a physical demonstration of my success so far.  I would definitely wear my 4 eggs on my head or something.  Instead, I just have numbers on a scale and a measuring tape. Speaking of measurements, let me fill you in on those.

So far I've lost:

Biceps- 1/2 inch
Stomach- 2 inches
Hips- 0, zilch, null, nada, nothing, niente.  Totally not dwelling on it....
Thighs- 1/4 inch
Weight- 4 pounds

Now, if it wasn't for the fact that EVERYONE gave me chocolate for my birthday, I'm thinking those numbers would be better.  You know that there is only one way to get rid of chocolate.  I have half a box and 1 bar left so I better get back to it! .....Now where did I put that Toblerone?

Monday, April 22, 2013

April's Habit- Working Out

A few months after having my first child I looked in the mirror and, to my surprise, saw a middle-aged body connected to my head.

"Well, yes." said my mom when I complained to her. "How did you think middle-aged women got those bodies?"

I don't know what I thought.  Too much chocolate?  Laziness?  Bad genes?  Bad jeans? Well, turns out it is growing a baby for nine months, then pushing it will-nilly out of your body, and then being so sleep-deprived and busy that you just let the baby weight sit there.  And bad jeans.

A middle-age body at 28 was NOT an option for me!  So I began to scour the internet for the best solution.  I found Holly Rigsby and her Fit Yummy Mummy weight loss program.  After almost being scared away by her very spam-like website, I bit the bullet and bought her ebook.  I'm so glad I did..

Her program is only 15 minutes per day for six days a week.  You can do her workouts at home with minimal equipment.  I lost 25 lbs which brought me below my pre-pregnancy weight.  My muscles became more toned than they ever have been.  In short, my middle aged body was a thing of the past! Then I became pregnant again.

Just before starting to work out
At my daughter's 1st birthday.   1 month pregnant!

My second daughter is now about 12 weeks old.  I started up my Yummy Mummy training at the beginning of this month and therefore have decided that this month's habit will be to exercise.

I started a group on Facebook so that I have a support system this time.  I find that I do much better with accountability partners.  I'm doing strength training 3 days per week and intervals 3 days per week.  My first 16 week program will be completed in July.  We will see if I need to do another round or just maintain.  I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

5 Years Later....

As many of you know, I started taking one picture every day starting on my 25th birthday.  I cataloged those pictures by posting them on this blog.  You may also have noticed that just yesterday, I finished up my goal by posting the last picture.  I had taken the pictures on time, I just hadn't posted them until yesterday....5 years late.  So.  At the time, I had thought that I would repeat this little experience every 5 years.  But blogging a picture every day for 365 days when I was childless but working full-time was difficult enough for me.  I'm not sure that it would be a good idea to commit to that again seeing as I now have two children.

But this is my 30th birthday!  I want to do big things this year!  And I don't want to look back 5 years from now and wish that I done something interesting this year.  So I came up with an idea.  Habits!  They say that it only takes 21 days to form a new habit.  I decided that each month this year, I will work on forming a new habit in my life.  That means that I really only need to post on here a minimum of 12 times this year.  I'm pretty sure I can handle that.  Hopefully I will write more often than that but just knowing that I don't HAVE to write more often should take a lot of pressure off.

Thank you for joining me for this year of transformation!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Birthday at Laguna!

Today to celebrate my actual birthday, we went with the Kellars to our favorite beach.  Shaw's cove at Laguna Beach.  We played in the sun and surf and I enjoyed turning 26.

Mosey takes over my spot.

 Can't believe I have (for the most part) taken a picture every day for a year!  I think the biggest thing I've learned is that life and memories are made up of the small things.  It has been fun to catalog those little moments.